After opening in March 2013, The Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais in Haiti is meeting and exceeding all performance expectations. There are many sceptics who doubt the intermittentcy of solar for providing reliable power required for electrical systems which support the activities of doctors, patients and staff alike. The reliability of a power supply can be the determining factor between life and death of patients. “Sporadic electricity impairs the operation of surgical wards, delivery wards, essential hospital equipment, and hospital communications. This compromises the ability of health workers to provide safe, appropriate, and timely medical care.”
Hospitals have round the clock energy demands and are generally large consumers of electricity . They have extensive HVAC systems in addition to other energy intensive devices such as ;equipment for refrigeration, equipment for sterilization, computerization, cleaning and laundry as well as food service. “An EIA Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey in the US showed that although large hospitals (> 200,000 square feet) account for less than 1% of all commercial buildings and 2% of commercial floor space, they consume 4.3% of total energy delivered to the commercial sector.”
Hospitals’ large energy demand and easy predictability of load make them good candidates for solar energy. In particular, solar is an exceptionally good choice for Haiti and the Caribbean because of the high annual irradiation received. Haiti, being one of the poorest nations in the world has 80% of persons living below the poverty line with only 20% of residents having access to electricity. In addition, the 2010 earthquake set the country back by a whopping $7.8 Billion in damages. Haiti’s current energy security is uncertain , with wide spread deforestation, Haitians rely heavily on imported diesel from Venezuela which makes up 60% of the nations electricity. On top of the high price of electricity paid by Haitians, the country experiences frequent brown outs due to a very unstable grid.
To avoid staggering electricity prices and unreliability of the grid The Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais used 1800 280W Solon polycrystaline panels which provides a total of 500kWp DC power. The building is equipped with 5 95kW Solectrica which collectively provides over 400kW AC to he building. During the construction of the hospital 800 jobs were created and 2 permanent jobs for the upkeep and maintenance of the solar system.
They system provides over 100% of the hospital needs and sells overages back to the grid. Due to the PV system installed, the hospital saves about $379,000 on operating cost. Since operation, 485MWh has been generated by the PV system and has avoided 29 tonnes of CO2 equivalent thanks to a relatively small investment in solar technology.